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Oh my heavens, how could I have just posted Chocolate Coma Cake without its partner in crime? Here you go.
This is the same icing that led to the recent unfortunate icing disaster, but that’s just because I was truly messing with it. Done without fiddling, this icing is foolproof — dark, delicious and easy.
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One of the bits of paper flying around in the greater collection of stuff from Grammy was a little foldover, like something that might have been included in a gift or a package. Printed on this brittle, yellowed rectangle of paper is a recipe entitled Queen Elizabeth Cake. The recipe itself is simple and interesting; the story, written as a “note” on the right-hand side of the foldover, is the mystery.
“This is supposed to be the only cake Queen Elizabeth makes herself.
The Queen’s request is that it not be passed on, but sold for CHURCH purposes only. Large amounts of this cake she makes each year for the CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
A piece of the cake is sold with a RECIPE. The idea is to have more and more cake in the Parishes throughout the Country. It always sells because it is so good, and because it is the Queen’s own. It originated in Buckingham Palace after the Coronation.”
Now, the world wide web is not encyclopedic, nor is it all accurate. But if this were indeed a big deal for church and crown, wouldn’t one find something on, say, the official site of the royal family? Or the Church of England?
Not only is there nothing there, a Canadian site includes a disclaimer, attributed to a representative of the current Queen: The recipe ain’t hers.
If I were Queen Elizabeth, I would claim this recipe in a heartbeat. It makes a killer moist cake; when you pour the icing over the top, you’re headed for sticky toffee pudding. (There are some recipes on line that talk about broiling the icing. Nah. Looks really ugly.)
I guess if one is the Queen, however, one must be very careful about endorsements. If one were to select a certain cake to bear one’s name, would that be to the exclusion — or at the least, slighting — of all others? One would certainly not wish that. One has too many desserts to enjoy in this world.
Queen Elizabeth Cake
It may seem like you are not making enough icing, but you are. You can either leave this cake in the pan or turn it out onto a platter before you ice it — the parchment-tab strategy makes this easy. The platter approach allows the coconut to catch not just the top but the sides as well.
Makes one 9 x 12 inch cake
- 1 cup chopped dates
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1-1/2 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 5 tablespoons brown sugar
- 5 tablespoons cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9 x 12 inch pan, or line the pan with parchment paper.
Combine dates and baking soda, and pour boiling water over them. Let mixture stand.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla, and beat well. Add flour, baking powder and salt; pour in date mixture and nuts, and mix all together well.
Pour batter into the pan. Transfer pan to the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let stand.
Mix all icing ingredients except for coconut in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil; boil three minutes, until thickened. Pour icing over cake and spread. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top.
Photos and recipe copyright 2010 Garside Group LLC
The intention was pure: My beloved-beloved has a violent reaction to unbaked cows’-milk fat, yet loves cake and chocolate. And a friend — who also loves chocolate — was coming into town. “Ah,” I thought, “let me adapt chocolate icing so that we ALL can eat it.” The idea was to have a rich, dark icing spread onto a store-bought pound cake that had been sliced into layers. The icing would not include cows’-milk fat. The cake was to be purely vehicle for the chocolate.
Here’s what I got: Solid, unspreadable, cake-shredding icing. And it didn’t even taste very good.
This served me right. I forgot a simple rule of dairy substitution: You can usually reduce the milkfat, but you cannot eliminate it altogether.
I needed a substitute for the normal ingredient — sour cream — so I used Greek yogurt — you know, that really thick, luscious stuff — that was non-fat. This was to be a weeknight-simple company dessert, just melted chocolate chips, the yogurt and a bit of salt and vanillla. I melted the chips in the microwave, then stirred in the yogurt. For one moment it seemed like it would work. But then the icing, instead of staying spreadable, completely seized up.
“Who cares?” said my friend. “Schmear it on the cake anyway.” So I schmeared, and the cake disintegrated, and we laughed.
The flavor was not what it should have been, either. Fat plays a lovely matchmaking role. A bit of butterfat in the icing would have introduced bittersweet chocolate to tangy yogurt, and they would have danced well. Ginger and Fred. Instead, the two lead flavors were competing against each other like the worst we’ve seen on “Dancing with the Stars.”
So let’s all say it together, and heed this not-so-gentle reminder: When a recipe calls for cream or milk — or even yogurt — you can usually take the fat down, but you can’t take it out.
All photos and recipes copyright 2010 Garside Group LLC